And when he regarded down, he could not acknowledge himself. Once a 215-pound athlete with chiseled muscle tissues and astounding power, the 40-year-old regarded like a totally totally different particular person.
“I woke up and looked at my arms, my legs, and my muscles were gone,” he mentioned. “I was kind of freaking out, like where are my legs? Where did my legs go?”
Ayyad is a coronavirus survivor.
Doctors had positioned him in an induced coma for 25 days to avoid wasting his life.
It’s been slightly over two months since these touch-and-go days and he is nonetheless recovering. Still out of breath at occasions. Still nursing the harm to his lung and coronary heart.
But he has a message — for many who refuse to put on a masks throughout this pandemic, for these dismissive of public well being steering, for these within the prime of their well being and really feel invincible towards coronavirus.
“It worries me a lot seeing people take this lightly,” he instructed Source on Tuesday. “I got it and survived, and I’m still terrified.”
How all of it started
It began with an awesome feeling of weak spot.
One week, Ayyad was working his personal restaurant and membership in Washington, DC whereas working at his household’s retail furnishings enterprise. He was racing marathons and competing in impediment course races, taking weekly basketball lessons, and boxing, considered one of his favourite sports activities.
The subsequent week, his whole life had modified. Walking up the steps left him exhausted. So did cooking, speaking, and driving.
Then got here the coughing and sneezing. Eventually it was a excessive fever, whole lack of power and urge for food, and an issue respiration.
Ayyad thought he had the flu.
But after considered one of his buddies, a doctor assistant, urged him to go to the hospital, he took an Uber to Sibley Memorial Hospital on March 15. Their suspicions had been confirmed; he examined optimistic for influenza and the coronavirus.
His situation continued to worsen. He was positioned on a ventilator and instantly transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, the place he was put in an induced coma.
The majority of coronavirus sufferers who’re positioned on ventilators are positioned in an induced coma as they’re normally too uncomfortable to remain relaxed with a tube down their throat, which makes them really feel like they cannot breathe.
“It was extremely emotional,” Ayyad mentioned. “I knew I would be in this completely alone. Then I called my friend and told him to pick up my dog. And that was it. I didn’t know what was coming. I didn’t know if this was the last time I would talk to them. I didn’t know if I was about to die.”
What occurred subsequent
Ayyad does not know for certain when or the place he was uncovered to the virus. Per week earlier than he started displaying signs, he took a 3-day journey to Florida to go to his brother. It might have been then.
As he lay in a hospital mattress, his relations had been tormented they’d lose him with out even getting an opportunity to say goodbye.
When his mother, Zeinab Ayyad, first laid eyes on her son after he was launched, she burst into tears. She longed to carry her son in her arms. Instead, she was compelled to face distant on a road and watch him go inside his house to self quarantine in solitude.
Every three days, she cooked for him Palestinian meals — stuffed grape leaves, Molokhia, Maqluba — and did her greatest to “fatten him back up,” he joked.
“I had nightmares every night, calling the hospital at 3 a.m. just to make sure he was still alive,” Zeinab instructed Source.
How issues at the moment are
After almost a month with out strong meals, Ayyad clearly remembers the second he received to eat once more.
“It was apple sauce,” he mentioned. “I was so happy. That first bite, it felt so satisfying. Well, before I realized I forgot how to swallow. It’s like I didn’t remember how to eat. I had to learn that all over again. But I won’t forget the apple sauce.”
It wasn’t simply swallowing that the athlete needed to be taught another time. He could not discuss or stroll both. For the subsequent three weeks, each motion knocked the breath out of him, elevating his coronary heart charge and leaving him gasping for air.
But he was removed from discouraged.
Every day, Ayyad tried one thing new. First he began with leg extensions from his hospital mattress utilizing the blankets. Then it was aspect lunges. Eventually he was off the bed, squatting and strolling laps after laps. He was decided.
After lastly going house on April 22, Ayyad was 60 kilos lighter. He had a blood clot in his left arm, harm to his coronary heart and lungs, and spent the subsequent month struggling to do something with out shedding his breath.
But on a regular basis, little by little, he was gaining again his weight — and muscle tissues.
“He seems to be making a great recovery,” Zaeh, the physician, mentioned.
“It was remarkable to go from seeing him at his sickest in the ICU — intubated, deeply sedated and on his stomach to help him breathe — to seeing him at home. He was smiling and talking about how happy he was to go for a short jog and sit outside with the sun on his face,” Zaeh mentioned.
Ayyad is now nearly again to regular. While he is again to boxing, figuring out on a regular basis, taking part in basketball and hopefully working marathons quickly sufficient, he is nonetheless apprehensive concerning the virus.
“People are acting like it’s gone. It’s not. Wear your mask. Don’t gather in big groups. Take care of yourself and the people around you,” Ayyad mentioned.
“Take it seriously. It’s not a joke. It can kill you, even if you think you’re healthy and immune to it. You’re not.”
He is aware of. He hopes others haven’t got to seek out out the onerous means.